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Joan Crooks, dedicated missionary, teacher, student of Theology and devoted friend of St John's College and Cranmer Hall, who worshipped for many years at the Cathedral, has died after a short illness.

Gillian Boughton-Willmore writes:

"Joan Crooks, someone who loved the St John's College and Cranmer Community, and was ceaselessly interested in supporting and listening to individual students as they worshipped at the Cathedral or worked in the Department of Theology & Religion died on Wednesday 13 October, twelve days after her 94th birthday, after a short illness.

She had been invited to spend a sabbatical in Cranmer Hall by Ian Cundy towards the end of his time as Warden, and – after a final spell of her missionary work teaching in a school in Jerusalem – came to St John's and enrolled as an undergraduate, encouraged by Walter Moberly to believe that she was not too old at 66. She then went on to do an MA and attended Old and New Testament departmental seminars and national conferences until her early 90s. Her faithfulness in keeping in touch with those she befriended while studying was remarkable and it is likely that she supported each one of her friends and contacts by name in prayer to the end of her life.

Joan worked as a missionary with MECO (Middle East Christian Outreach) which joined with Serving In Mission (originally Sudan Inland Mission) in recent years, after training as a primary school teacher. Her first stint was in Eritrea, followed by time in Lebanon during the civil war when, although American missionaries were recalled home judging danger to life to be unsustainable, Joan stayed among the British missionary stalwarts and simply drew her wardrobe across her bedroom window so that any bullets would lodge in it.

Her deep love of the scriptures was evidenced by the fact that she ran a Bible Study, open to members of the Cathedral congregation and other Durham churches until 2014. Her reading of the first lesson at the 11:15 Sunday morning Eucharist until the pandemic (and she is still on the rota!) cost her hours of searching through original sources and dedication to seeking the meaning of the text for the life of faith for each reading. Her readings had an astonishing impact on ordinary Cathedral goers and visitors. She will not be forgotten."